Monday, July 18, 2016

23 in 23 Days!

This blog is about something that is near and dear to my heart. My marriage. I have been married to my wonderful husband (today he's wonderful, because I'm not upset with him - Big Smile!!) coming up on 23 years, in just 23 short days. I am extremely proud of this. I know there are a lot of marriages that have lasted a lot longer than ours, but there are some that have done good to last 23 days. I am hoping that if you are not yet married, this blog will give you hope. If you are married, and struggling, I pray this blog will give you hope. Tough times don't last....but tough people do! Just remember that as you read this.

Over the last few months it seems I have heard of so many divorces or almost divorces and I often think .... "why?" Lord knows my husband and I have [most definitely] had our ups and downs, faced many, many, many challenges, from financial battles, to what some would call irreconcilable differences, heated discussions about politics & religion, burying children and going through infertility failures, and an In Vitro Fertilization (IvF) pregnancy that left us literally heartbroken and fulfilled all in on; and yet we have managed to stay married - beat ALL ODDS, and from my perspective, still doing rather well. Most can not have a heated discussion without getting divorced let alone go through half of what we've overcome in the last 22+ years. Yes, we did end up separated after 5 short years of marriage, but we managed to reconcile and make it work. Neither one of us have been perfect. No one is perfect! No marriage is perfect. So, if you have that expectation - well, I hate to burst your bubble - but it simply does not exist.

Anyone who tells you marriage is easy has just left the alter. Marriage takes 3! Husband, wife and first and foremost, God! If you don't have a 3-cord marriage it will be even harder. When I say "marriage takes work," I don't mean that in a negative sense. I mean it from a perspective of you cannot expect to get if you don't give. It's that simple.

I want to share something intimate with you. I love to read. I think reading feeds the brain. Depending on what you read also fuels the mind and body, gives you inspiration and sets you up for success through continued learning. I spend the majority of my time reading my Bible. It's food for my soul, which is instrumental to my daily living. Next, I listen to a lot of audible books (due to my daily commute to/from work), and read a lot of self-help, inspirational and spiritual gift books. I think it's so important to keep your mind filled with positive inputs so you have positive outputs.

About 10 years ago (or more) I purchased a very well-known book, "The Power Of A Praying Wife" by author, Stormie Omartian. I was so excited. I just KNEW this book was going to help me "change" my husband. I crawl in bed one evening, grab the book, with high expectations and the very first sentence in the book reads, "First of all, let me make it perfectly clear that the power of a praying wife is not a means of gaining control over your husband, so don't get your hopes up! In fact, it is quite the opposite. It's laying down all claim to power in and of yourself, and relying on God's power to transform you, your husband, your circumstances, and your marriage." WHAT??? I shut the book, laid it on the nightstand beside the bed, and it was more than a year before I opened it again. I was devastated! I felt like I had just wasted my money.

Fast forward a year. Ryan and I had been in heavy discussion about having children. We had lost another baby and we were not in agreement to try again. I had a very heartbreaking tubal pregnancy that almost resulted in my demise and he was not ready to forego the pain again. I, on the other hand, could not imagine not trying again. I wanted to be a Mom. I had dreams of holding our child in my arms - alive! Was that really too much to ask? How could he be so insensitive! How could he not want to see my heart and dreams fulfilled? All I could think of was how selfish he was! It would be 5 more long years before we would agree to start the IvF process. I needed to read that book! Maybe there was more to it... maybe I could get past the opening 'stupid' sentence! I mean, after-all, what woman does not need to change their husband from time-to-time? I mean, isn't that the whole purpose of praying for your husband? Boy, did I have a lot of growing up to do!

I became very bitter, angry and could not even grieve for my own stubbornness. It took me the better part of three years before I would actually finish the book. [This is where I become an advertisement for the book.] If you have not read it, and you want to become a Proverbs 31 wife - Read the book! I have read the book more than five times since then. I occasionally will pick it up just to refresh myself.  I recently got the book back, as I loaned it out to a friend that was going through a rough patch in her own marriage. Over the last week I have re-read it again.

What I want to share with you is that it really isn't about my husband. This book helped ME realize that it's about ME. It's about MY walk with God. It's about MY relationship. What I want and desire has to start with ME. Change starts with ME! It's about praying FOR my husband - NOT to change him - but to change me so that I can be more understanding, supportive, and open. There are several pieces of the book that really spoke volumes to me - but Chapter Eight - well, it's the one that brought me to my knees.

After I read Chapter 8, I asked my husband what he was afraid of and why he did not want to try again to have children. That's when I learned so much! I learned that he was afraid. He was afraid of losing me. He was afraid that he wouldn't be a good dad. I had no clue! I had never really taken the time to ask him why. I just heard "no."

Clearly, you'll have to read it - but I will leave you with these questions:
1.) Do you know what your husband's fears are? Do you share any of the same fears?
2.) Ask your husband if there are any fears he has for which he would like you to pray about for him.
3.) One thing about fear is that it is often contagious. When the spiritual leader of a home is facing fears, the entire household can falter. How have your husband's fears affected you?
4.) Psalm 34:4 reads, "I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears." In light of this Scripture, how could you pray for your husband so that he would be set free from his fears?

The key to a good marriage is solid communication. Ryan and I are still working on this. However, I can tell you we are light-years ahead of where we were even 5 years ago. I have shifted my prayers and I pray every day FOR my husband. I pray that God will protect and cover him. That He will go before him and lead him and guide him in his every thought and action. I pray that he will never doubt how much Alexis and I love him and appreciate him. I pray that God will deliver him from anything that is causing him stress or anxiety. I pray that God will abide in him and with him daily, that he will make good, solid and sound decisions for our family. Clearly that's not all of my prayer but you get the gist of it.

Learn to pray for your husband but mostly, learn to pray for yourself. I pray daily that God will guide me and bridle my tongue. That He will give me a soft heart and gentle touch to be a positive influence for my family. That He will make me a strong and thoughtful wife that will always put Him first so that my family can always see Him through me. I pray for wisdom and strength and that He will help me to learn to be the kind of wife He designed me to be.

I am FAR from the perfect wife. However, I can promise you that once I changed the way I was
praying - my marriage changed, my outlook changed and my desires to change my husband changed. We are still a work-in-progress...every day is a new day -- and thank God that we have the opportunity to try again. Whatever you're going through, or if you're single and looking for a husband or wife, learn to pray for yourself first. Leave it in God's hands - and watch the magic unfold as you change.

Remember, as I've written before, if you take nothing else away from my blog - I pray you will never forget that you are "wonderfully and fearfully made" (Psalm 139:14). Never forget that you are the son or daughter of the almighty Kind of Kings and that you do not have to "BE" what the world expects you to be, but you do have to be what makes you happy! Do something kind today, be nice to others, and respect those you interact with. Strive to make a difference in others' lives, but more importantly make a difference in your own life. Life is messy...thank God for Bounty Paper towels, Grace & Mercy!
"Pretty words aren't always true...and true words aren't always pretty, but when the truth is spoken, it's always beautiful!" 
"And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (John 8:32)

Make memories and make today count for today will never come again.

"G18 Mommy"
"...the battle is the Lord's" (I Samuel 17:47)